Welcome to Day #14 of 100 Days of Travel! It’s a new world and a new type of traveling. For the next 100 days, I’m exploring Macedonia and Albania as safely as possible. On today’s hike, I scale the heights of Solunska Glava for epic views of the mountain and the early changes of autumn.
The route of Papradiste-Ceples-Solunska-Papradiste is a popular route in this region. While possible to complete in a single day, it can be a strenuous expedition (2000 meter elevation change both up and down) so most hikers choose to overnight at the mountain huts located in either Papradiste or Ceples.
On this trip, I didn’t quite have time to reach the summit, so I opted for the “Winter Trail” which brought me to a beautiful high meadow and some wild views of the southern face of Solunska Glava. Below, I’m going to post some top-level info on this area.
Type of Hike: Dirt road, steep trail
Time: 8 hours
Starting Point: https://goo.gl/maps/
How To Get There
By Bus: No options that I could find.
By Train: There are three trains a day that pass through here from Veles or Prilep. Make sure to get off at the Bogomila station and take a taxi to Papradiste (about $2-3 USD). If you’re aiming for a daytrip to the area, the train from Veles is a better option. Here is the train schedule.
By Car: If you are coming to Papradiste via Veles, the roads are decent. The other way to reach Papradiste is over the mountains from Prilep. It’s an incredible drive over a mountain pass if you go this route, but it is still a dirt road and it is currently under construction.
Where to Stay
Papradiste Mountain Hut: A former school that has been transformed by a local hiking group into a mountain hostel, this place has multiple rooms with bunkbeds for around $4 USD per night. There is a kitchen, showers, and pit toilets (indoors).
Ceples Mountain Hut: About 2 hours of easy hiking from Papradiste is this mountain hut in the mountains. It is possible to drive up to this one, but you will need a fairly rugged vehicle to make it up the road. It also has a kitchen, showers, and indoor toilets.
Where to Get Supplies
I packed in most of my food. The village of Nezhilovo has at least one restaurant (check times) and you can pick up some really nice local produce near the train station in Bogomila. I didn’t see anything in Papradiste, but I did buy some some nice mountain tea from a local, fresh mushrooms from the mountain hut host, and apples right from the tree.
There is water at both mountain huts and at least one fresh spring high up on the Winter Trail (right before you exit the forest). You can also ask other hikers about springs along the hike. Everyone that I met was exceptionally friendly and helpful.
Finding the Trailhead
The hike begins at the central spring of the idyllic mountain village of Papradiste. From here, there is a well marked trail (red/white) heading up from the right. If you want to stay in the village, the Schoolhouse Hut is the driveway to the left of the spring.
On the Hike
The first part of the hike is about two hours and there are two options. One is straight down into the river canyon and up the other side, or you can choose a nearly flat hike on a road around the perimeter of the valley. I recommend the road if you plan on heading on to Solunska. The woodland route is also interesting, but a bit more exhausting.
Both routes will take you to Ceples Hut and from here you can follow the red/white trail up to Solunska Peak. About 40 minutes in, you’ll reach a beautiful (and eerily spooky) forest. The trail splits shortly after entering the forest with the option to continue on the main trail (red/white) or veer to the left to the much steeper Winter Trail (blue/white/green).
My goal for this hike was to see some epic views of Solunska Glava, so it took about two hours of some fairly strenuous climbing to reach this high meadow. It’s amazing!
This was less of a full hike and more of a fact-finding mission for further exploration of this amazing region of Macedonia. Next time, I return, there will be far less stumbling around in the wilderness…I hope.